Following a rapid spread from its origin in Wuhan, China, the first U.S. case of the 2019 novel coronavirus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19, is confirmed in a man from Washington state.
The virus, which would spark a pandemic, was first reported in China on December 31, 2019. Halfway across the world, on January 19, a man who had returned home to Snohomish County, Washington near Seattle on January 15, after traveling to Wuhan, checked into an urgent care clinic after seeing reports about the outbreak.
Experiencing a cough, fever, nausea and vomiting, the Centers for Disease Control announced on January 21 that the 35-year-old had tested positive for COVID-19. He was hospitalized, where his condition grew worse and he developed pneumonia. His symptoms abated 10 days later.
In the following months, the Seattle area became the epicenter of an early U.S. outbreak. 39 residents of Life Care Center, a nursing home in Kirkland, died from complications from the virus in one four-week span. In some cases, people who died from COVID-19 in January 2020, but didn’t know it at the time, had their death certificate amended to show they died from the virus.
According to the CDC, 14 U.S. coronavirus cases were noted by public health agencies between January 21 and February 23, 2020; all patients had traveled to China. The first non-travel case was confirmed in California on February 26, and the first U.S. death was reported on February 29.
As the virus quickly marched across the country, businesses, schools and social gatherings were largely shut down, while, by May, unemployment rates reached their highest levels since the Great Depression.
Spreading to almost every country, more than 335 million people have contracted the virus worldwide, and 5.5 million have died from it. The first U.S. vaccinations for COVID-19 were administered on December 14, 2020. Despite the efficacy and widespread availability of vaccines for Americans, the United States continues to lead the world in both COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths. By early 2022, 68.1 million cases and 855,000 deaths had been reported in the U.S. alone.
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